Thursday, August 15, 2013
*if you like this blog, you might enjoy my book:"Quiet the Noise: A Trail Runner's Path To Hearing God"
On 6/1/2013 my 8 year old daughter, Hana, ran her first trail race with me. As I have said many times, I am very careful about not pushing my children too much (just healthy suggestions or questions to see if they want to participate) and this time was no exception.
About a month before this race, Hana actually asked me: “when are we going to do a trail race together, dad”. You would think she asked me when we were going to the all you can eat ice cream bar together I was so happy!
I told her I would look for a good starter race and let her know. She proceeded to inform me that this race would be “just like Ryan’s (her older brother) first race. Just me and you, Ryan and Mom spectating only. Anything I want to eat after I finish”.
Who am I to argue with simple logic like this?
I found a nice 5k trail race (no 1 mile “kids race” for this girl) and we had 3 weeks to “train” for it. As Hana mentioned before she ran her first race, she "doesn’t need to train cause she does gymnastics".
Our training consisted of one walk/run for 2 miles on an easy trail, 1 mile run on the road, 2 mile run on the road and a 2 mile trail run on another harder trail.
4 training runs in 3 weeks.
We were ready!
She was so cute, so excited and nervous at the same time. She actually got into her “race outfit” the night before and slept in it!
This race was about 1.5 hours away so we had to leave at 5:45am to be on time (my definition of “on time” for a race is about 45 minutes early, I am a bit OCD about this stuff.). Got her up, she woke up, brushed her teeth and got in the back seat – where we had packed her favorite pillow and blanket the night before!
She was chatty and excited for a bit then promptly fell asleep.
We got to close to the race and I had to stop for gas (and coffee, of course) and she was up and ready to go. Nap did her good and she was nervous but more than that, excited!
We got to the race start and got ready. Putting on numbers makes it real and that ceremony is always fun for me, and the kids. Then I put out a chair to sit down and she said:
“Leave the chair out, I will need to sit down after this race”.
I think she was thinking about my 100 miler where I didn’t sit down for 27 hours. This 5k probably felt like that to her!
I kept coaching her on not starting out too fast, but I really was not worried – she is really good about telling me when she needs to walk during training runs.
About 5 minutes to go and we both knelt down and said an “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” and a “Glory Be” and prayed that God kept us safe and allowed us to have a great experience!
She was very good about starting in the back of the pack and I let her dictate the pace.
Poor Ryan, I learned a lot of valuable lessons by making mistakes with him – sucks to be the older brother!
This course was not too tough but the beginning was really rocky and rooty (kind of a dug up jeep road) and we could not wait to get to the single track.
She was running great and we both looked behind us, a bunch of people so we were pretty sure we were not gonna be last – yea!
My only worry was that there was a 15k going on that shared the course for about a mile so maybe everyone behind us was in the longer race. Not a big worry cause I know God was going to give us exactly what we both needed this day!
The course split up at about one mile (she ran the first mile in 12 minutes and it had a fair amount of up and down) and she took a little “walk break”. Not long at all and then she took off again.
Her 2nd mile was amazing. Lots of downhills, that she loves, and she passed a bunch of people! We hit mile 2 at 22 minutes (remember, everything is “ish” in trail running so mile 2 could have been short, and mile 3 was definitely long) and I was so proud of my baby girl!
We got to the aid station and she threw water in her face (just like her brother) and I threw one over her head (just like her brother) and we sped away.
Now a funny part. There was a 9 year old boy in the race and we started catching him (he was walking – turns out he had just fallen and told his mom he was going to walk the rest of the race).
Just before we pass him, he turns around, sees and 8 year old…..GIRL…behind him and….
Hana really pushed him, barely took any walking breaks at all and ran strong the rest of the way.
The last mile was definitely long (it ending up taking us almost 18 minutes) and that is when Hana told me her “plan”.
“Dad, tell me when we get close to the finish. I am going to walk till I feel good then sprint the rest of the way”.
Awesome and well thought out plan, especially if Dad could remember the finish at this race.
Which, of course, Dad could not.
So, we sense that we are getting close to the finish. And by “sense” I mean one of the volunteers told us “you are close to the finish”.
Brilliant race course awareness.
So, Hana starts her prep walk.
Then we turn a corner and I think the finish is about 50 yards away, so I say:
“Time to sprint”
She takes off, we round the corner and….
The finish is about a ¼ mile away.
So proud of my girl, this could have taken the wind out of anyone’s sails, but not her.
She continues the sprint, across a grassy field which my fellow runner-readers know how hard it is to sprint on! She passes 4 more people and finishes strong!!!!
Falls on the ground in completely happiness and exhaustion.
Praise the Lord!
Bonus: she ends up 3rd place in “Under 14 category” so she gets her very own Bronze medal (which she proceeded to wear all day)!!!!
Even more impressive bonus (to me, didn’t matter much to her) – she was 75th overall out of 103 finishers – she beat 28 people, the majority of which were adults!
With virtually no training.
This day was such a blessing – again to see the pain and suffering, followed by incredible release and joy that running provides in my children.
I don’t know if she will do another, and I am fine if this is it for her (she really is built physically for sprinting, dancing and gymnastics).